What were you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Each year I remind myself to be thankful for my survey respondents, who donate their time and give me valuable data for relatively little in return.


A survey is a touch point between your organization and a group of people that you are interested in knowing more about. This group could be made up of existing or potential customers, employees, students or any other target population. Showing appreciation for your respondents is an important part of forming positive relationships with them; so this week, I’ll share three guidelines that can help your respondents feel more appreciated when they take your surveys.


Don’t ask unnecessary questions.


First, demonstrate that you value your respondents’ time by refraining from asking unnecessary questions. You’ll be less likely to fatigue your respondents or frustrate them, and you’ll get higher-quality data.


Make questions easy to understand.


Second, provide clear instructions and definitions so that any potentially confusing survey items are easy to understand. In addition to making the response process easier for your respondents, you’ll also ensure that they will have the same approach and definitions in mind when responding to tough or tricky questions.


Be polite.


Third, treat your respondents with respect. Use words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to signal to your respondents that you appreciate the data that they’re providing. At Qualtrics, when we are fielding a particularly long survey, we try to add a message about one-half or two-thirds of the way through that thanks respondents for their responses up to that point and assures them that we value their time and effort.


At the end of the day, these steps may improve your data quality or reduce break-offs, but hopefully they’ll also make your respondents feel appreciated. This, in turn, may make them more likely to respond to future surveys, driving down your data collection costs – and more money in your pocket is just one more thing to feel grateful for this holiday season.